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Heart Surgery Patient Guide

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

There are several coronary arteries which deliver oxygen and nutrients to the heart's own tissue. These coronary arteries can become blocked by a buildup of cholesterol fats, often referred to as "plaque". Plaque deposits can make the arteries stiff and irregular. This is called atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries". There can be a single blockage or multiple blockages, and they can vary in severity and location.

Atherosclerosis, showing various states of artery blockage from plaque.

Any narrowing, or blockage, of the coronary arteries reduces the blood supply to the heart tissue, therefore reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients delivered. This inhibits the normal function of the heart muscle.

Heart and various stages of thrombosis.
Above: Thrombosis


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